Over the years, Apple’s iPhone naming has had its ups and downs

Apple’s iPhone naming has, from 2008’s iPhone 3G, been a hodgepodge of hits and misses.

Neil Cybart for Above Avalon:

Over the years, iPhone naming has had its ups and downs. There were the awkward names like iPhone 3GS and iPhone XS Max, and then there were strong industry-defining names like iPhone X. Based on the latest rumors, Apple appears to be in the early stages of moving away from an annual iPhone naming cadence altogether…

Last year’s flagships [iPhone XS / iPhone XS Max / iPhone XR] were the most confusing from an iPhone naming perspective… Consumers are now routinely mispronouncing or misidentifying iPhone names and it’s easy to see why: iPhone XS Max doesn’t exactly roll off one’s tongue. A similar issue will be seen if Apple ends up going with “iPhone 11 Pro Max.” People are increasingly saying “the new iPhone” or “the biggest one” when referring to the latest flagships.

There are subtle clues that suggest we may be approaching the point when Apple will do away with the annual iPhone naming cadence altogether. This wouldn’t mean that Apple would just go with “iPhone.” Instead, Apple would still need a way to distinguish iPhone models with different sizes and capabilities. In such a case, one likely option would be:

• iPhone Pro (iPhones containing the most capability)

• iPhone (the middle of the road option for the masses)

• iPhone mini (the iPhone containing the smallest screen and fewest features)

MacDailyNews Take: Almost perfect, but we contend that “Air” is a more compelling name than “mini.”

As we wrote back in mid-August:

Starting this year, if Apple wanted to properly name the iPhone, they should do it as shown below. People could then simply say they have the “iPhone Air,” the “iPhone,” or the “iPhone Pro.”


• 5.8-inch iPhone Air (2019)
• 6.1-inch iPhone (2019)
• 6.5-inch iPhone Pro (2019)

Going forward, simply follow the template (display size, iPhone Air/iPhone/iPhone Pro, year):

• 5.4-inch iPhone Air (2020)
• 6.1-inch iPhone (2020)
• 6.8-inch iPhone Pro (2020)


  1. MDN Take makes sense. I’ve said before that iPhone names after 10 (“X”) will become awkward, and Apple knew it early on. I think that’s a reason why, going back to iPhone 3GS, Apple started using the “S” suffix. To signify iPhone two-year design cycles (to match two-year phone contracts) AND to stretch out available name numbers as long as possible before getting to 10. “iPhone 11” IS awkward; this change in iPhone naming convention probably starts this year. It’s already implemented in iPad lineup. For example, recent successor to iPad mini 4 is just called “iPad mini” and no current iPad name has a number.

  2. Yes, MDN makes perfect sense! Using their suggestions, no one would be confused here on out. Time to reign in the hapless inconsistent and incoherent failures of the past…

        1. Hey dude, if you truly didn’t care, you wouldn’t have responded. The fact you responded shows you do indeed care that you have been an inconsistent and incoherent failure.

    1. Poignant post, JD. You put your finger on the pulse of ALL that is WRONG with Apple under Cook.

      After the 2012 creative Tech Titan battle between Forstall and Ive, Cook and the status quo lieutenants had to choose. The status quo decided the creative genius of Forstall was too much to handle, Forstall out and Ive won. The rest of the fat and happy lieutenants breathe a sigh of relief.

      Eerily similar to the Sculley and Amelio stagnant years the company barely survived. In a sense, we are now back to some of the same with another non-creative, CEO Cook. Unlike past non-creative CEOs, Cook enjoys healthy iPhone profits.

      Bottom Line: Since the passing of Jobs and the forced out departure of Forstall — Apple is seriously ADRIFT in creatives leading the company. Apple needs BOLD creative leadership, AGAIN. The sooner, the better!

      Apple owner since my Lisa…

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